Dec 212011

Interview with Dr. Thilo Weichert's data protection officer

respect: Mr Dr. Weichert, very global asked: what role does the feature of sex-gender identity in the context of data protection?

Dr. Thilo Weichert: In accordance with the Federal data protection law and the European data protection directive "Data about sex life" belong to one so-called "special category category" of personal data, which may be only very restricted due to their sensitivity and processed only after consent of the people concerned. Regardless of this formal arrangement "Sexual identity" among the main areas of personal life and is associate of privacy. This is about "inner", detectable empirically and outwardly very difficult circumstances that is closely related to many psychological operations in many areas of life. Given the experiences - not only but also with national socialism - we know that deviates from the "social norm" features in this area a huge manipulation, discrimination and tracking potential is.

Gays and lesbians can now live so freely and openly in Germany, like never before. However, homophobia and discrimination have still not been overcome. Just in the workplace, many lesbians and gay men therefore avoid an outing. But the head of googling and SURFs may also like. What discourages the privacy advocates?

Jede und jeder muss selbst entscheiden auf der Basis der persönlichen Lebensbedingungen. Lesbisch oder schwul zu sein, muss keine Nachteile und kann Vorteile zur Folge haben. Die Vor- und Nachteile muss ich abschätzen, wobei ich die Erkenntnisse zum „Identitätsmanagement“ heranziehen sollte: Je nach Rolle kann für einen selbst einmal „Outing“ und ein andermal „Geheimhaltung“ richtig sein. Das Problem ist heutzutage, dass wir unsere Rollen, etwa in der Familie, im Beruf, im Verein, in der Nachbarschaft … immer weniger voneinander abschotten können, weil nicht nur über soziale Kontakte, sondern auch über die Informationstechnik immer mehr Überschneidungen stattfinden. Trotzdem sollten wir uns jeweils rollenadäquat verhalten und im Zweifel darauf achten, dass im Fall eines Outing dieses sich auf diese Rolle beschränkt. Gesellschaftlich bin ich ein Fan des Outing, um dort, wo noch Homophobie besteht, diese aktiv bekämpfen zu können. Meine Utopie wäre, dass ich keine Ratschläge mehr geben müsste, weil es völlig egal ist, ob jemand hetero oder homo ist. Aber davon sind wir selbst hier in Deutschland noch einiges entfernt. Bei öffentlichen Angaben im Internet muss ich mir darüber bewusst sein, dass diese global abrufbar sind und möglicherweise auch abgerufen werden, etwa wenn ich in die USA oder in arabische Staaten reisen möchte.

The Internet has become the major place of information and communication for many gays and lesbians. There are also pages on sex and dating. It concerns sensitive data. What must you watch, how can one move as soon as possible?

It matters, that I can trust the party and the people involved in the communication. The provider, which is extremely difficult if it is anonymous and provides no relevant information about. But can be from the terms and conditions, the privacy policy, from publications in the network and the design of the Web site or the Portal derive much. European services, there is the opportunity of the implementation of existing data protection legislation, which does not apply to suppliers from the United States and many other countries. Of course the own experience and that of the personal environment are important. In plays such as a role, whether will can direct contacts available in the case of complaints and these will also help about if discriminatory content is removed.

With regard to the communication partner, we have the problem that these distributed world-wide and can be anonymous. In such cases, it is strongly recommended, so the use of possibly different pseudonyms mentioned identity management. I know my communication partners and trust you, then I can trust me this also to this extent. Regarding the provider as well as the personal partners and partner you can experience good, but especially nasty surprises. There are no guarantees here unfortunately. Yes, there is still not even common certificates, which the seriousness could be tested and demonstrated. We are here the only position that exhibit such transparent, independent and qualified approved certificates to the independent Center for privacy protection in Kiel, Germany so far.

Data retention, so the anlasslose storage of the telecommunications connection data of all citizens and citizens, is a politically hot issue. Many gays and lesbians get in troubles. Right?

Jein. The previous data retention was justified by the Federal Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional. I am also an opponent of a trimmed-down data retention, because of especially unsuspecting and innocent people are affected, that can be traced to communicate. Actually a communication structure can be from the traffic data read off, which, in turn, allow conclusions, including on sexual orientation. Such analyses would be of course totally awkward and show the danger of general data retention. Because the evaluation of the data but should be under Government control and such evaluations would be inadmissible, I hope, should be introduced the data retention in Germany what I fear that such sensitive evaluations will not take place.

The termination threatens workers in Catholic institutions, if it becomes known that they are entered into a registered partnership. If soon hopefully also equality in taxation is important, an employer but gets message about the collaboration investment. A real dilemma. Or is there a special privacy policy possible?

It was always a social and often an individual catastrophe in church employment did not by some fundamental rights to the application. The privileging of the churches in the labor law is totally anachronistic. Regardless, the churches need to learn that personal sexual orientation has nothing to do with the faith. The Evangelical Church is here already a step further. But as a young lawyer I had to represent still a Protestant pastor where nothing else has been accused as a homosexual relationship. Equality in the partnership and the tax is the right way. The churches must follow.

Until far in the 80's, "Pink list" when police were a big issue. What is currently the storage of the characteristic "gay" for perpetrators and victims in police databases?

Although there no longer are these lists and also the formalized so-called personal characteristic 'Gay' in police files I know officially, but the information is nevertheless still in many databases. However, nothing is wrong, if this is actually relevant to determination. Unfortunately, it is but in a way that often the existing prejudices in the police officers surrounding the data are key, so this feature as relevant is stored.

A question about transgender: banning disclosure in respect of the previous name or sex is to protect people who use the possibilities of the trans-sexual act claim, against discrimination. Good work your knowledge or know the privacy advocates here problems?

We get as data protection authorities very rarely in this area of complaints, suggesting that the protection against discrimination seems to work reasonably. But there are complaints. They are mostly due to the fact that no one can make a complete cut in his life story and then suddenly standing data from one with other sex in the room. According to my impression, but the authorities are here and give effort.

They are considered major Facebook critic. Is it true that you want to prohibit the "like me" button? What you do not like it?

I don't deny the "Like me" - button. The data protection law prohibits it; I am only the Messenger of this message. Social plugins and Facebook fan pages, comprehensive data in the United States are transmitted and merged to profiles, without that there would be information about this and choices, as required by law. The problem is not only on Facebook, but for example also on Google . The aim of our actions is to reassert more privacy on the Internet, no more and no less.

For associations such as the LSVD, services like Facebook for information, discussion and mobilisation are almost indispensable. What do you specifically civil society organisations like ours? How can we take advantage of the benefits of social networks and remain in terms of data protection at the same time correct?

This isn't me about a paternalistic tutelage of Facebook has already. Who as an individual Facebook wants to use or should that do, but then also know what risks they or he moves. In cruel way many people in Arab countries have experienced, who organized their political opposition through communities such as Facebook, and have delivered to the security authorities of the still-ruling Government because of missing data protection thus. There is more privacy-friendly alternatives to Facebook, about German communities, or the alternative network diaspora. Here must be a general awareness in terms of privacy and Web 2.0 applications. We are thus only at the beginning.

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